a game played on ice, in which players use long sticks to hit a hard rubber disc (called a puck) into the other team’s goal CulturehockeyIn Britain hockey refers to field hockey. Hockey played on ice is called ice hockey. In the US ice hockey is much more common and is called simply hockey. Both sports are played by both men and women.In field hockey there are 11 players in each team, five forwards, three halfbacks, two fullbacks and a goalkeeper. A hockey pitch (AmE hockey field) is 100 yards/91 metres long and between 55 and 60 yards/50 and 55 metres wide. There is a goal at each end. The aim of the game is to hit a small white ball into the other team's goal with wooden hockey sticks. A goal is worth one point. Each game has two halves of 35 minutes. A game begins with a pass-back: a forward hits the ball but it is not allowed to cross the centre line until another player from either team has also hit it. There is also an indoor game of hockey played with six in each team.The modern game developed in England in the mid 19th century, and the first hockey club was formed in 1849. English clubs are now organized into a league with a Premier Division and three regional divisions. The Scottish Hockey Union runs leagues in Scotland. The sport is not shown on television as much as cricket, Rugby or football and most people could not name any famous hockey players. Hockey is a game traditionally played at girls' schools. In Britain ice hockey attracts relatively little interest.An English teacher visiting Harvard introduced the sport to the US in 1901. At first it was played only by women, and the first men's game was not until 1928. In the US the game is controlled by the USA Field Hockey Association. It is less popular than in Britain.By contrast, ice hockey, first played in Canada, has long been popular in the US. It is a fast and exciting sport. Each team has six players, a centre, two forwards and two wingers, all of whom try to score, and a goalkeeper. Players wear skates, and have helmets (= hard round hats), gloves and pads for protection. They use long wooden sticks to hit the puck, a small, hard rubber disc, into the opponent's goal. If they succeed they score one point. The area of the rink (= iced surface on which the game is played) is up to 67 yards/61 metres long and 33 yards/30 metres wide, and is divided into an attacking zone, a neutral zone and a defending zone.A game has three 20-minute periods. Play begins with a face-off when the referee drops the puck between two opposing players. Defenders try to prevent the opposing team from scoring and can check (= crash into) another player with their bodies. Professional players often have fights on the ice, and the game has been criticized for being too violent. A player who commits an illegal action goes to the penalty box, informally called the sin bin, for a period of between 2 and 10 minutes and the team must continue without him or her.The US National Hockey League has 30 teams, six of which are Canadian. The best teams in the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference play to decide which two will be in the Stanley Cup. The Hart Memorial Trophy is given to the best player, and Wayne Gretzky, thought by many to be the greatest ice hockey player ever, won it eight times in the period 1980-7 and in 1989. Among the most successful teams have been the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings. In the northern states college and university teams compete in three NCAA divisions.